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Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease with a devastating global impact. Plasmodium vivax is a major cause of human malaria beyond sub-Saharan Africa. Relapsing infections, driven by a reservoir of liver-stage parasites known as hypnozoites, present unique challenges for the control of P. vivax malaria. Following indeterminate dormancy periods, hypnozoites may activate to trigger relapses. Clearance of the hypnozoite reservoir through drug treatment (radical cure) has been proposed as a potential tool for the elimination of P. vivax malaria. Here, we introduce a stochastic, within-host model to jointly characterise hypnozoite and infection dynamics for an individual in a general transmission setting, allowing for radical cure. We begin by extending an existing activation-clearance model for a single hypnozoite, adapted to both short- and long-latency strains, to include drug treatment. We then embed this activation-clearance model in an epidemiological framework accounting for repeated mosquito inoculation and the administration of radical cure. By constructing an open network of infinite server queues, we derive analytic expressions for several quantities of epidemiological significance, including the size of the hypnozoite reservoir; the relapse rate; the relative contribution of relapses to the infection burden; the distribution of multiple infections; the cumulative number of recurrences over time, and the time to first recurrence following drug treatment. We derive from first principles the functional dependence between within-host and transmission parameters and patterns of blood- and liver-stage infection, whilst allowing for treatment under a mass drug administration regime. To yield population-level insights, our analytic within-host distributions can be embedded in multiscale models. Our work thus contributes to the epidemiological understanding of the effects of radical cure on P. vivax malaria. Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Somya Mehra, Eva Stadler, David Khoury, James M McCaw, Jennifer A Flegg. Hypnozoite dynamics for Plasmodium vivax malaria: The epidemiological effects of radical cure. Journal of theoretical biology. 2022 Mar 21;537:111014

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PMID: 35016895

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